Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) is a new treatment modality under evaluation in patients with severely symptomatic, diffuse coronary artery disease, in whom the potential for medical or interventional management has been exhausted. Preliminary clinical trials show improved ischemic symptoms within the first 3 months in about 70% of TMR-treated patients. The original proposed mechanism of surgical or catheter-based TMR (percutaneous myocardial revascularization [PMR]) was that channels mediate direct blood flow between the left ventricular cavity and ischemic myocardium. However, several alternative explanations for the clinical success of TMR have recently been suggested, including improved perfusion by angiogenesis, an anesthetic effect by nerve destruction, and a potential placebo effect. This article reviews the clinical role of TMR/PMR, its possible pathophysiologic mechanisms, and its controversies. It provides an overview of the actual scientific and clinical status of TMR and details future directions.
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